Old News – October 2006
updated 9th oct 2006
Before I begin I must apologise for my neglect of those of you who tune in expecting some news in the news section of this site. I know that web news like this is normally called a blog but this isn’t so much a blog as it is a look back at what I have been up to since my last ramblings. Any of you who know me would think I could go on for hours (and possibly days) on this topic but the writing down factor plays a big part in the lack of update of this news section. In summary, I am not that fond of writing and so a blog turns into a ‘slog’ or ‘sblog’ (a slow web log).
And so my ‘sblog’ since 21st January 2006…
Straight after Celtic Connections in early Feb, myself and Kris Drever mixed our new cd ‘Honk Toot Suite’ (HTS) to be released early next year at Celtic Connections 2007 (Jan/Feb). We mixed it in Invergordon, Scotland at Pete Rawson’s studio, Redwood Studios and it sounds great. It will be released on Compass Records, just as my solo cd ‘Through the Round Window’ was. The reason for the time lapse between mixing and release is due to the business of both myself and Kris, usually at different and unsynchronised times, with our other music stuff – me with Salsa Celtica, and Kris with, what it seems like, everyone. More of this later.
‘Driving Lessons’ was written and directed by Jeremy Brock and stars (along with us of course!!) Julie Walters, Laura Linney, and Rupert Grint. I think it will be on ITV this Autumn – I saw adverts for it in their Autumn preview ‘montages’ anyway!!
Towards the end of Feb myself and Toby Shippey of Salsa Celtica headed for my old home town of Dublin for the premiere of ‘Driving Lessons‘ at the Dublin Film Festival. During the Summer of 2005 we ‘acted’ in this film, along with the rest of Salsa Celtica, as the band ‘Salsa Celtica’. Jeremy Brock wrote us into the movie when he was listening to us while he was writing!! In the movie we performed a few Salsa Celtica numbers, including Toby and my tune, ‘Cumbia Celtia’; the first track from the ‘El Agua de la Vida’ cd. We did a pretty good job of ‘acting’ as ourselves for the whole minute or two we were on screen!! Our music featured in a few places including the closing scene of the movie.
‘El Camino’, my first full album with Salsa Celtica was launched at a party in Bill’s Jazz Cellar in Edinburgh on the 1st March. We had a few guests with us including the wonderful Eliza Carthy who features on ‘Grey Gallito’, a highlight of the cd. A great night’s launching was had by all. The album was released on the 6th March on Discos Leon and can be bought from the Salsa Celtica website.
We started our UK ‘El Camino’ tour in Gateshead at the Sage on 23rd March and finished on 29th April in Glasgow before heading for a great few days in Iceland, playing in Reykjavik and wallowing in the ‘Blue Lagoon’. Over the course of the UK tour we hit England, Wales, Scotland, Orkney and Hoy over about 27 dates including another trip to Maida Vale Studios to do Andy Kershaw’s Show once more.
In early May we headed for the Isle of Rum for the Sound of Rum Festival and had a ball. As well as with Salsa Celtica I played a number with the great and influential ‘Frog in Throat’ band with all the young-ones including some of the Croft No. Five guys, Kevin O’Neill, and Salsa’s own super-youth Ross Ailslie.
In June we went to Lugo in Asturias for a night and had fun with the great Frankie Delgado and equally partying Iain MacLeod. We returned home for a gig with Eliza Carthy at the Wychwood festival where we met up with the Aberfeldy guys along with super-sound-and-mystery-juice-hero Tim Matthew. A trip to Barrow-in-Furness followed a gig in Swindon and led to an exhilarating pre Moonwalk (Breast Cancer awareness walk) gig in Edinburgh’s Meadows.
We went to Cardiff on the 1st July for the Worldport Festival at St. David’s Hall. The following weekend we played at Richard Wilson’s birthday party in Chelsea Gardens in London. He had specifically requested us and paid us a great honour by thanking us for coming to play at his party – a thing he didn’t expect us to do. We had a great day and met some nice people before watching Italy stroke France in the World Cup Final in a pub in Chelsea!
Enough of Salsa Celtica stuff: myself and Kris Drever headed for beautiful Orkney and the fantastic home of the best little Folk Festival on the planet, and the 18th-century light beacon Lighthouse, North Ronaldsay. We were invited by the effervescent purveyor of all that is folk and fun on North Ronaldsay, Marion Muir, and she looked after us grandly. The stick-man that is Erik Laughton (plays on HTS with us) from the ‘Hope’ joined us on North Ronaldsay and buoyed the whole affair resplendently. Gavin Firth ably helped out on the second gig. Many tabloid features appeared delighting in our perfomances and activities. We wound up the weekend in Kirkwall at ‘Fusion’ drawing in the stagglers from the festival along with a crowd who I’m sure after the praise we sung toward our North Ronaldsay Folk Festival experience, will be cueing up to go next year. After we again played our hearts out (and Kris sung out his) we followed with pied-piper-like effect the piping and fiddling hero Andy Cant into the bowels of Kirkwall. A wonderful weekend surely to be the winner of ‘Scots Trad Music Awards’, ‘Festival of the Year’!! Vote for North Ronaldsay Folk Festival here.
Kris and myself then headed for Germany but after a great first night rain cancelled play for the 2nd gig. Disappointed we retired for a tune to the local public house, who’s owners were running the festival, and we left feeling much happier than before we went in.
After a few days in Dublin I returned to Edinburgh for rehearsal before a quartet of great gigs with the Salsas; Appleby Jazz Festival, WOMAD in Reading, and two days (and nights) at the Cambridge Folk Fest. Appleby was laid back and involved a folky set with Ross, Kenny, Phil, Toby and myself before the Latino’s and jazzers joined us for full Celtic-Salsa-ness. Womad was fabulous; we opened The Siam Tent on Fri afternoon and knocked the house (tent!) down. We lolled around all day listening, eating and generally enjoying ourselves and listened to lots including the wonderful Anoushka Shankar who closed the very same Siam Tent. We were sad to have to rush away; Womad is great. I want to go back every year.
Cambridge was a different more folky affair which is also right up my alley. More Fun, FUn, FUN. We again played in the afternoon, filmed by BBC on the main stage. A signing followed and then the lolling began once more. We met lots of old friends and hung out. I retired to the Dervish’s hotel and we played tunes ’til morning – Kris Drever landed in about 3 am. We closed the BBC stage the next night and then followed a lovely party tune which again went ’til morning, this time behind the main stage in the artist area. Old friends and new were involved including Mike McGoldrick, Charlie McKerron, Ross Martin, and Sara Watkins and Chris Thile of Nickel Creek.
The start of August saw another Salsas Jazz Festival sell-out return to Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall. This was followed by a quick trip to Faro, Portugal for La Linea. Myself and Kris squeezed in a Festival Folk at the Royal Oak for Paddy Bort. Following a couple of Edinburgh Festival radio shows the Salsas returned to the Famous Spiegeltent for three really enjoyable tea-time gigs. Early gigs let you loose for fun very early in the evening!! Dougie, Toby and me even managed a little time to fit in a red carpet walk into the Edinburgh Film Festival’s premiere of ‘Driving Lessons’ at the wonderful Dominion Theatre in Morningside. Oh! and I also succeeded to squeeze in a move back to Edi from Manchester where I had been kind-of living (in between gigs and travelling) for the year. I got to see the Reds at home a few times and fit in a few tunes with the Mancs.
Look out for Kris Drever’s new cd ‘Black Water’ on Reveal Records due to be released on 23rd Oct. it features Kate Rusby, John McCusker, Ewan Vernal, Eddi Reader, Roddy Woomble, Andy Cutting, Ian Carr, Donald Shaw, Roy Dodds, and Andy Seward.
We played with the Salsas at the 2006 World Equestrian games in Aachen town centre to about 6000 people at the start of Sept. Two Scottish festivals followed – the Islay Jazz festival and The Hairth O’ the World Festival in Knockengorach, Dumfries and Galloway. We enjoyed both greatly with the absence of mud at Knockengorach this year being greatly appreciated. Bognor Regis then called, for the UK 2006 Salsa Congress. Dancing and more dancing was the order down south and the clothes left little to the imagination!
Just now I have a few weeks off, and am reclining in Edi, before we are off to WOMEX in Seville (Salsa Celtica are the only UK band invited) and then to Germany for 4 dates bringing us into Nov.
But before that I have an extra special visit to Ireland for my Grandmother’s 80th birthday – yes, Ethna Coyne, she of ‘Through the Round Window’ fame who started her recording career at the tender age of 75 is going to be 80 on the 15th Oct. As always she continues to inspire me musically and socially with her tales of ‘the cool head and the long step’.
Byeeeeeeee for now and I hope you continue to enjoy the (possibly fortunately) not too often updated ‘sblog’. Keep an eye out for the random updates. ÉC